Quick Tip #14: Using your time wisely in a timed write

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By Akhil Kumar

It’s easy for students to feel flustered when facing timed writing assignments. While it may seem like all you have to do is understand the prompt and write about it, the task is harder than it looks when only given a limited amount of time. What can you do to prepare yourself for a timed write? Try some of these quick tips.

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1.Write a short and sweet introduction and conclusion. Should you write a detailed introduction that rambles on for a full page? No, it’s a timed write; you don’t have the time to expand every paragraph as if it were a take-home essay. Your introduction should be short and sweet—a few sentences at most. Simply provide some background information about the prompt, showing that you understand it. As always, a well-developed thesis at the end of your introduction gives readers a preview of what your essay will be addressing.Similarly, you don’t want to spend the majority of your time developing your conclusion. It’s not the time to restate all of your main points in your conclusion, either; instead, try to succinctly explain how all your main ideas and evidence fit together to support the thesis.

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2. Manage your time. You should check the time frequently throughout the essay to keep yourself on track. You should try to write at least three main points (paragraphs) to support your thesis. For a 60-minute timed write, ideally you’d spend 10-15 minutes total for your introduction/conclusion and split the remaining time up for each of your main points. You don’t want to forget about time and include too many details in one of the paragraphs only to short change your other main points.

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3. Don’t stress about spelling and grammar. Are grammar and spelling important? Of course they are, but in a timed write, you can’t waste time stressing about minor sentence-level errors. Often, the graders are mainly checking to see if you know what you’re talking about and can explain yourself in a coherent way. Lightly underline words you’re not sure how to spell, and if you have extra time at the end, quickly look them up in the dictionary you brought with you to check your spelling. Try to save a few minutes at the end of the timed-writing period to ensure that your writing is clear—clarity is key.

Now that you are familiar with these three simple steps, you’ll be ready to take on any topic in a timed write!

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